The Miami Heat have wins over the Washington Wizards and Detroit Pistons, who ranked 30th and 26th on this list. Otherwise, they have lost to the four playoff teams from a season ago they have played, including a 16-point loss on the road to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Jimmy Butler can’t score, their bench has been riddled with injuries, and the results have been painful. Could they turn it around anytime now? Absolutely, but their play thus far has been below-average.
Chet Holmgren has wasted no time stepping onto the court as a matchup nightmare from day one, and the Thunder look to have the makings of a future contender coming together in Oklahoma. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has continued his effortless scoring from the World Cup, Josh Giddey looks stronger than a year ago, and this team has a number of intriguing options who will only improve as they get older and gain experience. This team won’t win anything this season, but as early as next year they could be dangerous.
Last season the New York Knicks ranked third in offensive rating; this season they rank 28th. Julius Randle is having the worst high-volume shooting start to a season in modern basketball history; he has taken 96 shots and made just 27.1 percent of them; since 1979-80 that ranks among the 20 worst six-game stretches of any player at any point in the season. Jalen Brunson has been great, the defense has been ok, and the offense has been abysmal.
It’s hard to judge the Cleveland Cavaliers on anything thus far this season; Jarrett Allen has played one game, Darius Garland two, and they are without both backup point guards. The results haven’t been great thus far, but now that all of their core guys appear healthy they have a chance to come together and right the ship. Donovan Mitchell has been excellent carrying the load and is among the league leaders in scoring.
Similarly to Cleveland, it’s difficult to judge the Phoenix Suns given their injury issues. They have built a team centered on three stars, and Bradley Beal has yet to play a game and Devin Booker has played just two. They impressively beat the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco on Opening Night, but since have dropped two games to the San Antonio Spurs and are sitting at 2-4. The Suns need to get healthy, but until they do they’re not looking like anything resembling a contender.
In games when De’Aaron Fox has played, the Kings are 2-1 with a +6.5 net rating. Without Fox, the Kings lost a close game to the Warriors and then were blown out in Houston. Kevin Huerter has been ice-cold to start the season, the Kings haven’t found the right bench mix and Malik Monk has played too well to bench and yet is a massive defensive liability. Yet Domantas Sabonis has absolutely stuffed the stat sheet (17.4 points, 14.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game), Harrison Barnes has shot the ball well, and Fox shouldn’t be out too long.